By Adebisi Onanuga
The case file of a disputed property at Olowo-Ira Village, Magodo, Isheri on the outskirts of Lagos has been sent back to the registry of the Lagos High Court for re-assignment and trial.
This ruling was handed down by Justice Raliat Adebiyi of an Ikeja High Court during a Case Management Conference (CMC) held with counsels on the disputed Magodo, Isheri property.
One Alhaji Lateef Amodu, through his lawyer, Mr Ademola Afolabi, had sued the Lagos State governor, who he claimed allotted the disputed land, described as Block 41A Plot 20 Magodo Residential Scheme, to him through a March 20, 2006 letter of allocation.
His claim of ownership of the property was countered by a United States-based couple Mr and Mrs Johnson Oluwole who equally affirmed their ownership of the property, having bought the land from Ojoko family of Magodo and that pursuant to the notice of excision, the descendants of Ojoko transferred the title to them by a Deed of Assignment dated September 14, 2011.
Other defendants in the suit are Lagos State Attorney-General, Commissioner, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development and Permanent Secretary, Land Bureau, Secretariat, Alausa.
The Oluwoles are also defendants in the suit following the grant of leave by the court joining them as fifth and sixth defendants.
At resumed CMC, counsel to the claimants, Adebisi Oritade said that he has a pending application dated November 14, 2019 and and that same had been served on parties.
He urged the court to grant their prayer as contained in the application, explaining that after going through the statement of defence of the first to fourth defendants, they intend to amend their reply and bring in additional witness.
Responding, Kayode Oso, counsel to fifth and sixth defendants, the Oluwoles, confirmed service by the claimants.
He, however, reminded the court that at the last CMC, parties agreed that the matter should go for trial
“The fact that the claimants wants to bring in a new witness should not tie the matter down. He can file amendment in the course of trial.
“We submit that the matter should go for trial. It has stayed for too long at CMC level. We have opted for trial and whatever the changes, the claimant wants to do can be done during trial”, he said.
After taking submissions of counsels, Justice Adebiyi ruled that the case file will be remitted to the Admin judge for re-assignment and for trial.
The Oluwole’s in their statements of defence and counterclaim, filed through their lawyer, Taiwo Ade-Lawal, had prayed the court to declare them the owners of the property.
They disputed the averment of the claimant that the government allotted the land to him.
They argued that the claimant’s purported letter of allocation dated March 20, 2006 pre-dates the Magodo Residential Scheme approved sometime in September 2006.
“It, therefore, follows that the Lagos State government had no title to allot or otherwise confer on the claimant in 2006 or any other time after issuance of the Notice of Excision in respect of the property,” they argued.
They averred that the land is part of the property, which falls within Olowo-Ira Village and that by a notice issued January 15, 1997 and published in an official gazette of the government dated May 1, 1997, that the government excised and excluded all the land in Olowo-Ira, including the disputed property,from the said government’s general acquisition of land in the surrounding area.
They said they were granted the consent of the governor in July 2012 via the Deed of Assignment following payment of the requisite fees and consequent upon which the Deed of Assignment was registered on August 8, 2012 in their favour as No 100 at page 100 in Volume 2381 at the Lagos State Lands Registry.
They averred that since the title of the property has been vested in them, they entered the property and erected fence and gate in 2012.
In their averment, the Oluwoles contended that all payments of charges and levies and purported issuance of clearance and development permit was erroneous, unlawful and does not confer any title to the property on the claimant.
They averred that following their complaint against the claimants’s alleged encroachment on the property, the development permit was duly and appropriately revoked by a letter addressed to the claimant, dated December 28, 2016.
They said the claimant’s development of a two-floor storey on the property was an encroachment.
They averred that the claimant is not entitled to any of the relief as reliefs could only be premised on the validity of the claimant’s alleged title to the property.
They also asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the claimant from entering, constructing, occupying or interfering with their titles and attendant right to immediate possession of the property among other relief sought from the court.
The couple is also asking for N75 million for alleged unlawful encroachment on the property and costs incurred during their numerous trips to the country to tackle the matter.
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